Family reunions always produce recollections about the more colorful members of families; it is no different for me and my cousin, Becky. Every year we reminisce about Aunt Bessie, rest her soul, and her bent toward forgetfulness.
“Do you remember the time we were baking cupcakes and she couldn’t find her glasses?” Becky asks. Since our aunt had no children, Becky and I spent a great deal of time at Aunt Bessie’s and Uncle Ben’s.
“Oh, yes, I remember how we were sent to look for the glasses while she fussed.
She said, ‘Oh, dear, could they have fallen into the flour sack or, heaven forbid, into the batter?’”
“I thought we were going to have to strain the batter.”
“Or worse – sift all the flour!” I counter.
We laugh as we recall a flustered Aunt Bessie collapsing into a chair, head bent forward to allow the blood to flow to her brain. She believed this always helped her recall what it was that she had misplaced or forgotten. Sometimes it worked. This time it didn’t, so when she finally gave up and sat up straight in the chair, she suddenly jumped to her feet screaming, “I’ve been stabbed!”
Becky and I ran to her, fearful we’d see a knife sticking in her back and blood streaming down, only to find, not a dagger, but her now broken glasses, dangling from the neck chain she wore to keep from losing them.
“Lord, have mercy!” She uttered as she remembered having flipped them around to her back to keep them from getting splattered from the mixer.
Aunt Bessie was best known for deliberately hiding things and forgetting where she had hidden them. She purchased Christmas presents for us at July sales and secreted them away only to discover them at spring cleaning time the following Easter. “I’ll just save them for next year,” she’d say and then hide them again.
“Do you remember the wooden paper doll sets she gave us at Christmas when we were sixteen?” I ask. “She had to have hidden them for six years or more.”
“Didn’t you play with yours anyway?” chuckles Becky. “Well, at least she didn’t give them to us as our wedding presents!”
After Uncle Ben passed away, we found more of her hidden treasures as we helped pack away some of his things – boxes of Evening in Paris cologne in the back of his underwear drawer and charm bracelets in his tool box. “I was wondering where I put those. . .” Aunt Bessie had mused.
“You don’t suppose Uncle Ben had a girl friend and that they were really his, do you?” Becky grins.
“Not with ‘Class of ‘52’ charms on the bracelets,” I howl.
Aunt Bessie stopped giving us presents after we were married and our children grown, so it seemed her hide and seek days were over. When she died, the task of cleaning out her house devolved upon Becky and me. We soon discovered what we suspected all along - she had never really kicked her habit.
“Remember, how we thought we should make a thorough sweep just to be sure we didn't miss anything?” Becky says. “I’m glad we did!”
“Who’d have thought – currency under bookplates, the coin collection in the sofa cushions. . .”
“And, we almost missed the jewelry sewn into the drapery hems!”
“She really knew how to hide things.”
“And we knew how to find them. Do you think we missed anything?”
“Now that you mention it. . . we didn’t check the urn with Uncle Ben’s ashes before they sealed it up. . .”
Becky looks up at the sky. “Aunt Bessie? You didn’t. . .”
We can’t hide the tears streaming down our cheeks as we double over, sure that Aunt Bessie is laughing, too.
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